Advantage India despite struggling for runs in second innings

By Alkesh Sharma, IANS,

Mohali : India struggled to 134 for four in the second innings, though they still hold the advantage with an overall lead of 285 runs at the end of the fourth day’s play in the second cricket Test against England here Monday.

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At stumps, opener Gautam Gambhir was batting on 44 and Yuvraj Singh 39 after the England bowlers rattled the India’s top-order batsmen at the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) Stadium.

The start of the day’s play was delayed by two hours because of fog, but Harbhajan Singh lit up the session by taking three quick wickets and England were bowled for 302. India made 453 in the first innings.

Despite a 151-run deficit, India could not gain a stranglehold on the Test. They should have batted themselves into a position to declare the innings by the close of play today with a lead of well over 300 runs, but they could not get going. They failed to get off to their customary flier as Virender Sehwag and Rahul Dravid were dismissed quickly and that pushed them on to the backfoot.

Stuart Broad and James Anderson bowled a tight line and length and Ian Bell came up with a brilliant piece of fielding to get rid of danger man Sehwag.

Sehwag (17) started in his trademark fashion hitting two fours.Then he attempted a single off Broad and was run out by a diving Bell breaking the stumps.

After Sehwag’s exit, India went into a shell, scoring just 26 runs in the 19.1 overs after his dismissal.

Both Anderson and Broad got the ball to do a bit in the afternoon session. Rahul Dravid, who scored a century in the first innings, scratched around for 19 balls before being bowled by a Broad delivery that kept low.

Anderson was more effective in the second spell (7-5-7-1) as he picked up the wicket of Sachin Tendulkar (5) caught at gully by Graeme Swann.

With India struggling at 80 for four, Yuvraj played a breezy 40-ball knock to break the shackles while Gambhir played the anchor role to perfection.

Yuvraj, whose bowling was termed a left-arm filth by England captain Kevin Pietersen, turned the heat on the visitors and it was left arm spinner Monty Panesar, who found himself at the receiving end of the local boy’s onslaught.

Flintoff welcomed Yuvraj with a few words and the left-handed batsman responded by hitting the first ball he faced from Panesar for a four straight over the bowler’s head and a ball later his jab went straight back for another four. Yuvraj picked on Panesar again by swinging his for a huge six over deep midwicket.

Earlier, Harbhajan Singh had his best figures of the series, four for 68, while Zaheer Khan returned with three for 76 to bowl England out shortly before lunch.

Resuming at the overnight score of 282 for six, England’s lower-order batsmen could not read Harbhajan’s bowling. The off-spinner struck with the first ball of the third over removing Matt Prior (2) caught by Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

Harbhajan’s ‘doosra’ turned out to be too hot for Stuart Broad (1) and he then tossed one up to Monty Panesar who pushed it into forward short-leg Gambhir’s hands. In between the two dismissals, Graeme Swann’s (3) stumps were rattled by Zaheer Khan.